Boomers Watched A Show About A Talking Horse

Mister Ed was a TV show that ran from 1961 to 1966. The movie and TV rating site IMDb describes the series as, “The misadventures of a wisecracking talking horse and his human owner.” Boomers will always recall the talking horse, and Mister Boomer bets a good many can still sing along to the theme song from the show’s opening:

A horse is a horse
Of course, of course
And no one can talk to horse, of course
That is, of course, unless the horse
Is the famous Mister Ed!

The series begins as newlyweds Wilbur and Carol Post move into their first house, a country home. They discover the previous owner left a horse behind in the backyard barn. While Carol thinks they should sell the horse, Wilbur quickly takes a liking to him, and wants to keep him. The horse agrees.

George Burns financed the original pilot episode in 1958, which failed to gain a network sponsor. After retooling and a change of cast, it was put into syndication by Filmways with 100 TV stations in 1960. After 26 episodes had aired on syndication, CBS saw the show was well-received, and it was picked up. The first national broadcast aired on October 1, 1961.

Alan Young played Wilbur Post, Mister Ed’s owner, and Connie Hines was his wife, Carol. The man voicing the horse was never credited on the show. Rather Mister Ed is listed as playing “himself.” However, the man behind the horse was Allan Lane, a Western film actor. Mister Ed mainly spoke only to Wilbur, but he could speak to people over the phone. Mister Ed was often pictured as listening in on phone calls through the extension in the barn, where Wilbur, a freelance architect, had constructed his office. In one episode, Mister Ed speaks to a burglar, telling him he was surrounded by cops and should give himself up. In another, he whistled at another horse, but the woman riding the horse heard him instead.

Mister Ed’s real name was Bamboo Harvester, a Palomino show horse born in El Monte, California. The horse was originally trained by Lester Hilton, who had apprenticed with Will Rogers. He also worked with the mules in the Frances the Talking Mule movies from the 1940s and ’50s, the horse in the Fury TV series, and the horse that played Flicka in the My Friend Flicka series. Pumpkin was Ed’s stunt double horse, and was used for Ed’s live appearances. Bamboo Harvester had to be put to sleep in 1968, at the age of 19. The show was still in syndication, so news of the horse’s death was not released so as not to upset boomer children who watched the show.

Here is a video of Mister Ed playing baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Leo Durocher and Sandy Koufax, and another on how they got Mister Ed to move his mouth.

Mister Boomer’s family watched every episode. Mister B was fond of the way Mister Ed would say, “Oh Wilbur!” chiding his owner about so many things. Wilbur was the naive, klutzy one, while Mister Ed was more of a “man of the world,” in tune with what was happening.

Did you watch Mister Ed, boomers?

Boomers See Lighting Striking Again (and Again and Again!)

It continues to happen. Mister Boomer has chronicled the abduction of boomer-era music by the powers-that-be in the world of TV commercial advertising for several years, and now here is a fresh batch. Mister Boomer has spotted these in the past couple of months:

Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf (1968)
There are no babies on motorcycles, but the song is utilized to sell Pampers diapers. Really? Why not Depends?

My Way (written by Paul Anka in 1967), made famous by Frank Sinatra, (1969)
Performed by some unknown musicians in a Verizon ad, we can thank our lucky stars they had the wherewithal not to use either the Frank Sinatra or The Sex Pistols version (1978). Even though it came to be known as Sinatra’s signature song, his daughter, Nancy, said he hated it. The song was also recorded by Anka himself (1969) as well as Elvis (1977) and a host of others. One interesting tidbit is, the song is the most requested song to play at funerals in the United Kingdom.

You Don’t Know What’s It’s Like, The Bee Gees (1966)
In a Facebook Groups ad about fathers and daughters the song tries to evoke that lovin’ feelin’ between a father and daughter, but don’t they listen to lyrics? This song is about romantic love, not paternal warm and fuzzies, man! Facebook Groups is on a roll, using other songs from our era as well.

I Think We’re Alone Now, Tommy James and the Shondells (1967)
An HP computer ad is using the song to advertise its camera-blocking software. The song wasn’t about technological peeping toms, bro. That beating-heart drum now takes on a very creepy tone.

Turn Around, Look At Me, The Lettermen (1962)
Written by Jerry Capehart, the song was Glen Campbell’s first to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (at #62) in 1961. The Letterman’s version a year later hit number five. It was also recorded by The Bee Gees in 1964, which failed to chart, and The Vogues in 1968, which peaked at number three on the Adult Contemporary chart.

You Got It, Roy Orbison (1989)
OK, the song was released well beyond the boomer era, but come on — it’s Roy Orbison for Pete’s sake, and it was released shortly after his death. Figuring prominently in a Stop ‘n Shop commercial (a northeast supermarket chain with over 400 stores), strains of “anything you want” in a supermarket hardly seems the best way to celebrate the talent of a legend.

In the Midnight Hour, Wilson Pickett (1966)
Party City is using this one, but should we give them a pass since it’s a Halloween ad? Hmmm. The song was selected for historic preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2017. Now it’s selling costumes and party goods. They’ve used Michael Jackson’s Thriller in the past, too.

As if these weren’t bad enough, the merry marketeers have now officially crossed a line in Mister Boomer’s eyes. Celebrity Cruise Lines somehow got the rights to use White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane (1967)! Mister Boomer’s jaw dropped the first time he saw it. How dare they take an iconic anthem of the Psychedelic Era and reduce it to background fodder to a red-head’s (what’s up with that?) Alice-In-Wonderland fantasy aboard a cruise ship! The song does in fact reference Alice-In-Wonderland — but it is about drugs, man! Who writes these commercials now, anyway? Are they Gen Xers? Millennials? Have they no sense of history, let alone no sense of shame? Besides, in Mister Boomer’s humble opinion, Grace Slick is the premier rock singer of all time, and the Surrealistic Pillow album is on his Top 10 list. She could sing the phone book (if there still was one) and Mister B would listen. But geez, Beav, what have they done to my song?

What do you think, boomers? Does this latest salvo amount to unforgivable boomer-culture appropriation or Ob-La-Dee, Ob-La-Da, life goes on?